The Inhumans have officially landed and are taking Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from episodic procedural to a key player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Long gone are the days of offhanded name drops and “You had to be there…” callbacks while the monster-of-the-week storytelling kept us interested. Even the Winter Solider tie-in, while a pivotal turning point in both story and quality, was reactive and taking the events of the MCU in stride. Now it’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that is setting the pace of the MCU and it doesn’t seem too cheery as Skye mournfully reminds us “we’re gonna laugh a lot less….that’s for sure.”
****Obviously Spoilers Ahead****
“Aftershocks” lands with more than a rumble as it delves deep into how everyone fared after the Terrigensis event at the end of “What We Become” way back in December. For those of you who need a refresher, it went badly for everyone. Skye went through the jarring transformation and Coulson, and Co. had their entire worlds turned upside down on them as they realized there’s a lot more to be worried about than just HYDRA. Cal didn’t get the revenge or the family reunion with Skye/Daisy he always wanted while Raina finally got what she wanted her whole life only to have it be not what she wanted at all. No one was happy with how that day went except for the Audience.
Inhumans are a huge step forward for the MCU and are doing far more than setting up an eventual 2019 film. If you look really closely, and dream big, you can see the events of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. starting to lay some groundwork for Civil War and the Registration Act. If a widespread Terrigensis event happens (which seems likely), there will suddenly be thousands, or millions of empowered humans in the MCU looking to understand what’s happening to them and no one will be ready, let alone S.H.I.E.L.D. or The Avengers.
Though the entire MCU just took a huge step forward Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stays grounded on our characters and is all the stronger for it. Everyone gets their moment to shine this episode, but no one shines quite as bright as Fitz as he does everything he can to be there for his friends as they were for him after his accident. Whether he is trying to help Mac cope with having been a prisoner inside his body or promising to keep Skye safe until they figure out what’s going on with her. After spending all season trying to re-find his place in the team, it’s sweet to see that his role has never changed as the heart of the team.
Fitz's warmth finds a stark contrast in the now cold, plague-fearing Simmons. Simmon's “I’m not saying we shouldn’t kill Raina but…” speech is a bit unsettling and is a big jump from the inquisitive young mind we met in Season One. The two have come a long time from their FitzSimmons days, and it seems likely that they will only grow further apart if this keeps up.
"Aftershocks" isn’t just the origin of Skye and the Inhumans though. Raina gets her very own supervillain origin as she showcases her Inhuman evolution of thorns slicing through her skin, glowing eyes, and meth-addictey-teeth. She curses Skye for stealing her gift while remaining pure and beautiful, and is determined to take her rightful gift until Cal drops her as she is no longer useful. Lost, she wanders into traffic that magically turns into a S.H.I.E.L.D. team circling her before the teleporting Inhuman from the cold open appears to steal her away.
Ward is still missing after running off with Agent 33, but I’m sure he’ll be coming back sometime soon. His obsession with Skye isn’t something that he will pass up easily.
If you haven’t been watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet, now is the time if you are on the Phase 3 Hype Train because the first stop is on Tuesday nights.
Next Episode Hype: Lady Sif is coming back! Haven’t seen her since Season 1’s “T.A.H.I.T.I.”, but she doesn’t seem quite as friendly this time around.
**Image Courtesy of ABC Productions and SpoilerTV.com**